The recent wave of momentum for 23XI Racing's Bubba Wallace continued on Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, as the driver of the No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry recorded his second consecutive top-five finish.
Over the last three races, Wallace has an average finish of 7.0, and he has knifed his way from 21st in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings to 15th, 23 points above the Playoffs cutline.
Wallace, who finished fifth on Sunday, feels the rest of the garage should be a little nervous, as he personally feels his team is beginning to mirror the solid string of performances that he had late last season.
"I said it last week, it should be scary for the rest of the field that we’re on this roll, and on this roll for momentum reminds me a lot of the fall last year," Wallace said. "Just have to keep building off of it."
While the 29-year-old racer had another solid finish and a great points day at Darlington, he was left scratching his head about a late-race decision by NASCAR race control.
With 11 laps remaining in the event, an eight-car melee ensued ahead of Wallace. While Wallace steered clear of the chaos and drove up to the fifth position, NASCAR made a questionable call and allowed Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, and Brad Keselowski, who were heavily involved in the crash, to reassume their positions in the running order on the ensuing restart.
As a result of this call, Wallace was dropped to ninth in the running order. After climbing from his car, at the end of 295 laps around NASCAR's most treacherous track, Wallace was upset.
"I keep looking at that pylon and I’m still pissed off," Wallace explained. "There are a couple of cars up there that were in a wreck that got put back in front of us. That’s bull crap and it’s frustrating that we got beat like that because I feel that our car was really good, especially at the beginning."
As Wallace had a chance to look back at what transpired, he didn't feel any better about a situation that he tweeted was consistently inconsistent.
While Wallace was left seething, NASCAR went to work explaining the situation.
According to NASCAR, while Harvick, Elliott, and Keselowski were involved in the incident, race control felt the drivers kept a reasonable speed during the accident. In NASCAR's eyes, Wallace and others only got past these drivers due to not slowing for the caution.
Wallace found the follow up explanation from NASCAR to be funny.
However, despite the controversial call by race control late in Sunday's event, Wallace still walked away from a wild race at Darlington Raceway with an intact car and a top-five finish.
If he can keep the momentum rolling, he'll more than likely be headed to victory lane soon, and if not, he'll most certainly be in a solid position to advance to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the first time in his career by way of points.
Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing